Questions and Answers

The importance of South-South cooperation

Rebeca Grynspan talks about South-South Cooperation and the Future of Work in the context of the 2nd High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation (BAPA+40) taking place in Buenos Aires, March 20-22. Grynspan was a Member of the ILO’s Global Commission on the Future of Work.

Press release | 18 March 2019
Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General of the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB) and Member of the ILO’s Global Commission on the Future of Work

Within the framework of the 2030 Agenda, what is the perspective and role of SEGIB in the dynamics of South-South Cooperation?

The BAPA+40 conference is a historic moment to reflect on the important changes we have seen over the last 40 years in the dynamics of development cooperation. It will also be a moment to learn from the large number of emerging economies that have positioned themselves as influential actors in various crucial areas of cooperation. From the exchange of experiences to the strengthening of capacities, from the transfer of technologies and knowledge to the construction of exchange networks, growth in South-South cooperation has been so remarkable that we can see it even in the data of international economic transactions. These dynamic forces have brought to light a new and varied group of actors, who have acquired international influence, and have consequently acquired global responsibilities, bringing new, rewarding challenges.

South-South Cooperation plays a central role in the framework of the 2030 Agenda because it is based on the same philosophy of development, a philosophy based on collective action and solidarity among allies. Through cooperation, we are joining efforts and systematizing them under the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals, thus taking advantage of synergies that allow us to be strategic in achieving each objective. On the other hand, our way of working is also a reflection of the philosophy of the 2030 Agenda, which encompasses a solidary, horizontal, peer-to-peer way of working that is based in the principle, that there is no country so rich that it cannot learn, and no country so poor that it cannot teach.

One of the most valuable and unique features of Ibero-American cooperation is its dynamism and its vocation to learn from its own experience. Between 2006 and 2015, our countries participated in approximately 7,335 South-South Cooperation programmes, projects and actions. Eighty per cent were carried out in bilateral modality, 13 per cent through triangular cooperation and a small but significant number at the regional level.

At the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB) we have taken advantage of this vast data to develop an annual report on South-South Cooperation (SSC) in the region. The SSC report, is a unique report that is now in its eleventh edition. The protagonists of these reports are each and every one of the countries of the Ibero-American region, who have shared their experiences through an online platform that we have created and that is also unique in the world. These reports have allowed us to analyse impacts, look for efficiencies and offer increasingly wider ranges of solutions adapted to the specific challenges of each country. Our South-South Cooperation reports are the best example of how much we can achieve when we work with engagement, seriousness and enthusiasm. Therefore, we are very happy to be here: we have a lot to teach and a lot to learn!

2. What is your vision about the Future of Work and the perspective of young women and men of the South? What is the role of South-South cooperation to stimulate this reflection?

An important issue that will discussed in the framework of the event organized by the ILO and the South Centre is the Future of Work and youth. On January 22, we presented the final report of the Global Commission on the Future of Work, in which we proposed a ‘human-centred agenda’ as an instrument for a successful transition to the future of work. A programme based on investing in the skills of workers, updating the institutions of work and promoting decent and sustainable work. There is a strong focus on young people, who will be the protagonists of the future, but who are currently acutely affected by underemployment and informality.

Our main premise is that technology empowers those who have access to it. That is, to the people trained to use it. Therefore, investment in our young people will be mainly in education and teaching the skills needed to get the good jobs of the future. An education that uses state-of-the-art tools, including hybrid online-offline learning, that benefits from modern catalysts such as gamification, and that teaches soft skills – including leadership, communication, teamwork, creative problem-solving – which are skills that not only teach us to learn, but also to learn how to learn.

The Ibero-American space has much to contribute in this field. One of the most relevant results of the Erasmus experience in Europe is that young people who have experienced this type of educational mobility have lower rates of unemployment and higher wages. That is why we at SEGIB are developing Campus Iberoamerica, a similar programme that will allow our university students to move and cross the Atlantic in search of these enriching experiences that are formidable in the promotion of soft skills.

The policies developed in the new educational ecosystem proposed by the Global Commission will be profoundly enriched by South-South Cooperation. This is a subject where we must invent, be creative, try different instruments and tools that are efficient from an economic point of view and effective educationally. This is an area where it is better to work together, sharing ideas and experiences from the South-South Cooperation perspective and systematizing our efforts in reports that allow us to find the best solutions and adapt them to the contexts of each country.

Finally, we must put the Future of Work issue on the political and legislative agenda of our region, and we must do it together. We must create and update rights. Among them, I would highlight: the universal right to lifelong learning, the right to social protection in times of work transition, and the right to a universal guarantee of decent work that incorporates the achievements of the last century in terms of dignified wages, occupational safety and health at work, work-life balance and fair working hours, and adapts them to the new labour context where there will be more autonomous jobs and fewer jobs for life. This would guarantee decent work regardless of its status, and decent work regardless of its duration.

Ms Grynspan was a member of the
Global Commission on the Future of Work that released its report on 22 January 2019. She is the Secretary-General of the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB), an international multilateral institution which brings together Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries of Latin America plus Spain, Andorra and Portugal. As a recognized leader in promoting human development, she has greatly helped to focus the attention of the world and Latin America on critical issues such as the reduction of inequality and poverty, gender equity, South-South cooperation as tools for development and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Ms Grynspan will be presenting the results of the Future of Work report from an SSTC perspective, bearing in mind the challenges for youth.